"beautifully crafted... multi-faceted... important book to read"
Books keep us reading for different reasons. For some it’s plot, for others it’s characterization, and yet for others it’s beautifully crafted sentences or a sense of intrigue. Some of us like fast-paced, some of us like a slow trickle that places us in the hearts of characters.
RUBY by Cynthia Bond is truly unlike anything I’ve ever read. For me, personally, the keep-reading factor was multi-faceted. The story is filled with haints and the souls of small children – and I believe it is up to the reader to decide if they are ‘real’ in the fictional world, or a metaphor for Ruby’s pain. Is she simply haunted by the ghosts of her past and is she trying to let go of them? Are they a part of her mental unraveling? Or are they real manifestations of this dark Texas town and the evil it imbues with its cult-like culture and oppression?
So … beyond the effective use of this supernatural literary technique to convey a character’s anguish, I was drawn in by the incredible use of language to emanate emotion and sense of place. The sentences in this book drip will brilliance. You will be transported to the darkness and beauty of the piney woods, and you will see nature personified and understand that it offers a spiritual and healing balm for Ruby. Also noteworthy is the author’s skill at characterizing deeply flawed individuals. I won’t soon forget Celia, Ruby, Ephram – or the religious zeal that clouds the actions of so many in this small Texas town.
As many have noted, RUBY by Cynthia Bond is not an easy book to read due to its themes of sexual abuse. But I think it’s an important book to read, as it illuminates the reality of human trafficking. In fact, the author’s personal experience as a victim informs this book. If your stomach isn’t strong enough to read about abuses against children, this book may not be for you. But if you’re willing to read a story laced in vibrant description, one trickling with sorrow, one that offers valid insight into the danger of religious fanaticism, and one offering a chance at hope, this one may be for you.
Cynthia Bond is such a talented author with much to share. I look forward to her future work.
(A version of this piece was published at GoodReads on August 4, 2015 by Melissa Crytzer Fry. Reposted here with permission of the post author.)